Life in the 1500's -----

Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare.  She married at the age of 26.  This is really unusual for the time. Most people married young, like at the age of 11 or 12.  Life was not as romantic as we may picture it.
Here are some examples:

Anne Hathaway's home was a 3 bedroom house with a small parlor, which was seldom used (only for company), kitchen, and no bathroom. Mother and Father shared a bedroom.  Anne had a queen sized bed, but did not sleep alone.  She also had 2 other sisters and they shared the bed also with 6 servant girls.  (this is before she married)  They didn't sleep like we do lengthwise but all laid on the bed crosswise.

At least they had a bed.  The other bedroom was shared by her 6 brothers and 30 field workers.  They didn't have a bed. Everyone just wrapped up in their blanket and slept on the floor.  They had no indoor heating so all the extra bodies kept them warm.  They were also  small people, the men only grew to be about 5'6" and the  women were 4'8".  SO in their house they had 27 people living.

 Most people got married in June.  Why?  They took their yearly bath in May, so they were still smelling pretty good by June, although they were starting to smell, so the brides would carry a bouquet of flowers to hide their b.o. Like I said, they took their yearly bath in May, but it was just a big tub  that they would fill with hot water. The man of the house would get the  privilege of the nice clean water. Then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally  the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water  was pretty thick.  Thus, the saying, "don't throw the baby out with the bath water," it was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

 I'll describe their houses a little.  You've heard of thatch roofs, well  that's all they were.  Thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath.  They were the only place for the little animals to get warm. So all the  pets; dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs, all lived in  the roof. When it rained it became slippery so sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.  Thus the saying, "it's raining cats and dogs,"

 Since there was nothing to stop things from falling into the house they  would just try to clean up a lot.  But this posed a real problem in the  bedroom where bugs and other droppings from animals could really mess up  your nice clean bed, so they found if they would make beds with big posts
 and hang a sheet over the top it would prevent that problem.  That's where  those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies came from.

 When you came into the house you would notice most times that the floor was dirt.  Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, that's where the  saying "dirt poor" came from.  The wealthy would have slate floors. That was fine but in the winter they would get slippery when they got wet.  So they  started to spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing.  As the  winter wore on they would just keep adding it and adding it until when you  opened the door it would all start slipping outside.  SO they put a piece  of wood at the entry way, a "thresh hold".

 In the kitchen they would cook over the fire, they had a fireplace in the  kitchen/parlor, that was seldom used and sometimes in the master bedroom.  They had a big kettle that always hung over the fire and every day they  would light the fire and start adding things to the pot.

 Mostly they ate vegetables, they didn't get much meat.  They would eat the  stew for dinner then leave the leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight  and then start over the next day.  Sometimes the stew would have food in  it that had been in there for a month!  Thus the rhyme: peas porridge hot,  peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

 Sometimes they could get a hold on some pork.  They really felt special  when that happened and when company came over they even had a rack in the  parlor  where they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. That was a sign of wealth and that a man "could really bring home the bacon."  They  would cut off a little to share with guests and they would all sit around  and "chew the fat."

 If you had money your plates were made out of pewter. Sometimes some of  their food had a high acid content and some of the lead would leach out  into the food.  They really noticed it happened with tomatoes. So they stopped  eating tomatoes, for 400 years.

 Most people didn't have pewter plates though, they all had trenchers, that  was a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. They never  washed their boards and a lot of times worms would get into the wood.  After eating off the trencher with worms they would get "trench mouth." If you  were going traveling and wanted to stay at an Inn they usually provided  the bed but not the board.

 The bread was divided according to status.  The workers would get the  burnt bottom of the loaf, the family would get the middle and guests would get the  top, or the "upper crust".

 They also had lead cups and when they would drink their ale or whiskey. The  combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days.  They would  be walking along the road and here would be someone knocked out and they  thought they were dead. So they would pick them up and take them home and  get them ready to bury.  They realized if they were too slow about it, the person would wake up. Also, maybe not all of the people they were burying  were dead.  So they would lay them out on the kitchen table for a couple of  days, the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if  they would wake up.  That's where the custom of holding a "wake" came from.

 Since England is so old and small they started running out of places to  bury people.  So they started digging up some coffins and would take their  bones to a house and re-use the grave.  They started opening these coffins and  found some had scratch marks on the inside.

 One out of 25 coffins were that way and they realized they had still been  burying people alive.  So they thought they would tie a string on their  wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to  a bell.  Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to
 listen for the bell.  That is how the saying "graveyard shift" was made. If the  bell would ring they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he  was a "dead ringer".  <amazing, eh?